On October 5, 35-year-old Abdul Ahmed from Mahabubnagar district in Telangana, was shocked when the Hyderabad Diagnostic Centre in Somajiguda declared him HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) ‘positive’ and said that he was ‘unfit’ to leave for Kuwait. The diagnostic centre has the approval of the Gulf Cooperation Council to conduct medical tests in Hyderabad, and Abdul had planned to work in Kuwait after procuring the visa.
A dejected Abdul didn’t know what to do next when the results suggested that his days were numbered. “I was pushed into depression, I thought of killing myself… I didn’t know what to tell my wife. What will I say when they ask the reason for my visa rejection?” he asked.
However, after going through a myriad emotions and thinking about the situation, Abdul took the vital decision of taking a second opinion at two different diagnostic centres. The results at these centres -- one in Hyderabad and another in Mahabubnagar -- were both negative.
“I was relieved when I got to know that I did not have the virus," said Abdul. Alleging that the Hyderabad Diagnostic Centre diagnosed him wrongly and rejected him deliberately to demand a bribe, he said, “They wanted to extort money from me. They have been doing the same with many aspirants. They know very well that the aspirants will give whatever money they demand when they hold them to a ransom. I was told by a technician that if I pay Rs 6,000, I could get the medical fitness certificate from Kerala.”
“Earlier, too, my visa for Saudi was rejected by the same doctors and they said that I was suffering from a viral infection," he further alleged.
Abdul claimed that he confronted the doctors when the other tests proved that he didn’t have HIV.
“The doctor said, ‘You do whatever you want, I will ensure that you never get the visa approval’," he alleged.
Abdul said that he would file a complaint with the Hyderabad police, and take the doctors to task. “They are playing with our vulnerability, what If I had killed myself after reading the report?” he asked.
The issue came to light when Amjed Ullah Khan, spokesperson of Majlis Bachao Tehreek party, who works closely with Gulf migrants tagged state Health Minister Etela Rajender along with the DGP in a tweet, asking them to look into the issue.
Speaking to TNM, Amjed said, “This is not the first time they have been accused of such malpractice. Earlier, too, I received many such complaints where they rejected numerous aspirants by giving false reports, as those people weren’t willing to pay the bribe.”
However, denying the allegations about bribery and negligence, Dr Mukhtar, who runs Hyderabad Diagnostic Centre, said, “We ran tests on Abdul on four occasions, just to be certain. In all the four times, his HIV test result was ‘indeterminate’. So, we couldn’t establish clearly whether he was HIV positive or negative. And in such cases, when we are not certain, we declare that the patient is medically unfit.”
He added, “Abdul has been insisting that we give a favourable report, when his test results are unclear. How can we give such a report? Even if we give such a report, in Kuwait, too, he would be medically examined, and if they find that he is HIV positive, they will immediately deport him.”
Dr Mukhtar claimed that his diagnostic centre doesn’t take risks and that it does not approve an aspirant even if he has a viral fever. “Because of such strict scrutiny, people assume things," he claimed.
Meanwhile, Abdul is carrying out another test in a government hospital to prove that he is medically fit and HIV-free. “After the test report proves that I don’t have HIV, I will approach the police and file a case against them,” he said.